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Rail News

​21 December 2020. Vol 12, Issue 2

about 1 month ago by Rail Personnel

Dear Readers

This is the final issue of RailNews for the year. 2020 has been a challenging and unpredictable year for our industry but we hope 2021 proves to be considerably better for everyone.

We’d like to thank the many readers who sent in stories and comments throughout the year.

And from all the team at Rail Personnel, we would like to wish you all a happy and safe festive season.

Regards

David Hyland

Managing Director

davidh@railpersonnel.com

This Week’s Headlines

18 Dec 2020. Canada. TransLink selects Bombardier for order of SkyTrain vehicles

TransLink has selected Bombardier Transportation to manufacture the largest order of SkyTrain cars for the Expo and Millennium Lines.

Source: Mass Transit

16 Dec 2020. UK. Hitachi and Eversholt to develop battery hybrid trains

Hitachi Rail and Eversholt Rail have signed an agreement to develop electric-diesel-battery hybrid trains to carry passengers between London and Penzance, in South West England.

Source: Hitachi

16 Dec 2020. UK. Rail fares in England to rise above inflation

Rail fares across England will rise by 2.6% in 2021 after the government decided to increase prices above inflation for the first time since 2013.

Source: The Guardian

16 Dec 2020. UK. London North Eastern Railway launch charity cookbook

Train operating company London North Eastern Railway (LNER) has launched a charity cookbook with recipes from colleagues.

Source: Rail Advent

16 Dec 2020. Sweden. Bombardier completes first ZEFIRO Express train for Västtrafik

Bombardier Transportation and Swedish public transport operator Västtrafik have reached another significant milestone in the Bombardier Zefiro Express train project.

Source: Global Newswire

Rail News

18 Dec 2020. Canada. TransLink selects Bombardier for order of SkyTrain vehicles

TransLink has selected Bombardier Transportation to manufacture the largest order of SkyTrain cars for the Expo and Millennium Lines. TransLink says a contract for the C$722.6m (US$567.45m) order will be signed in a matter of days. The 205 new SkyTrain cars will allow TransLink to retire older vehicles, improve fleet quality and keep service reliable for customers. The contract will also support service expansion as the region’s transit network grows with the Broadway Subway Project and Surrey Langley SkyTrain. The first new SkyTrain car is expected to arrive in 2023, with all new vehicles in service by the end of 2027. The purchase of these SkyTrain cars is part of the Expo Millennium Line Upgrade Program. The program is funded with an investment of C$1.47 billion (US$1.15 billion) through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program with contributions from the governments of Canada and British Columbia, as well as from TransLink.

Source: Mass Transit

16 Dec 2020. UK. Hitachi and Eversholt to develop battery hybrid trains

Hitachi Rail and Eversholt Rail have signed an agreement to develop electric-diesel-battery hybrid trains in the UK, to carry passengers between London and Penzance, in South West England. On non-electrified sections of the Great Western Railway (GWR) route, lithium-ion battery technology will supplement the power of the engines to reduce fuel usage and carbon emissions by more than 20%. Hitachi Rail said the battery tech will be provided by its battery partner, Hyperdrive Innovation. The two companies, based in North East England, reached an agreement in July 2020 to create and develop battery packs for mass production at Hyperdrive’s HYVE facility in Sunderland. The goal is to create a fully electric battery intercity train that can travel the full journey between London and Penzance (around 290 miles by road) by the late 2040s, Hitachi Rail said.

Source: Hitachi

16 Dec 2020. UK. Rail fares in England to rise above inflation

Rail fares across England will rise by 2.6% in 2021 after the government decided to increase prices above inflation for the first time since 2013. The shock increase will take place in March, two months later than the usual annual rise, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced. The move comes despite widespread calls from transport campaigners to freeze rail fares to entice passengers back on to trains, with usage having plummeted during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the government expects to have spent almost £10bn extra on funding trains from last March until next April, since coronavirus restrictions led to fare revenue collapsing and the abolition of rail franchises in favour of emergency contracts for train operators. The DfT said fares would not increase until 1 March to give the dwindling number of commuters a chance to buy annual season tickets at current prices.

Source: The Guardian

16 Dec 2020. UK. London North Eastern Railway launch charity cookbook

Train operating company London North Eastern Railway (LNER) has launched a charity cookbook with recipes from colleagues. The new book is called Cooking For CALM, and is raising money for LNER’s charity partner, Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM). The charity is a leading movement against suicide, and the funds from the sale of the book will help them reach more people in need of support. The book, written during the Coronavirus lockdown contains an eclectic collection of recipes as people experimented at home with what they had available. Last month LNER raised money for CALM by auctioning nameplates from their HST trains.

Source: Rail Advent

16 Dec 2020. Sweden. Bombardier completes first ZEFIRO Express train for Västtrafik

Bombardier Transportation and Swedish public transport operator Västtrafik have reached another significant milestone in the Bombardier Zefiro Express train project. Bombardier has completed the construction of the first Zefiro Express train and Västtrafik has approved the build and awarded the Delivery Certificate enabling the testing and commissioning phase to begin. In April 2018, Bombardier and Västtrafik agreed to the supply contract for 40 Zefiro Express three-car trains, then seven months later, Västtrafik ordered five additional trains bringing the total order to 45. The framework contract still has options for 55 further trains. These high-speed high-capacity Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) three-car trainsets will run with a maximum speed of 200 km/h. To ensure reliability in harsh weather conditions, including temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius and snow drifts up to 80 cm deep, the new trains are being equipped with a winter package including a robust propulsion system, a single-axle drive and very good slip-slide regulation.

Source: Global Newswire

16 Dec 2020. Germany. Bombardier to provide up to 117 new trams to BVG in Berlin

Bombardier Transportation has received a new order for a framework agreement with the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) for the delivery of up to 117 Bombardier Flexity trams and their spare parts supply for up to 32 years. The total amount of the framework contract is valued up to around US$693m. At the same time, the BVG placed an initial firm order for 20 trams and their spare parts supply for up to 32 years. This call-off is valued at around US$140m. The extra-long trams are 50 metres long, 10 metres longer than all other BVG trams. They also offer capacity and are equipped with an equal level floor above the bogies, as well as wider passageways. The reduced entry height also enables barrier-free access to the tram, allowing fast boarding, which can positively impact the adherence to the timetable. In addition, the trams will feature state-of-the art safety technology such as the world's first approved Obstacle Detection Assistance System (ODAS) to avoid collisions.

Source: Bombardier

16 Dec 2020. South Korea. Hyundai Rotem to test-operate wireless train signal system

Korail has awarded Hyundai Rotem a contract to verify the stability and compatibility of the Korea Train Control System 2 (KTCS-2) signalling system, which will be used to standardise signalling across the country. The system uses LTE-R, which allows broadband networks to expand from solely carrying voice to include voice, video, text, images, and locations. The trial, which is due to be completed in 2022, with take place on the 180km Iksan – Yeosu section of the Jeolla Line. KTCS is intended to provide a lower-cost alternative to international signalling systems such as ETCS. The KTCS-2 system will allow trains to operate across all routes without the need to change signalling systems and enable two-way communication between the train and the control room in real time, improving operational efficiency and allowing a rapid response to emergencies.

Source: International Railway Journal

16 Dec 2020. Japan. Local train line tests dual-mode vehicle

A dual-mode vehicle (DMV) capable of driving on roads and moving along rail tracks and planned for inclusion on the ASA Seaside Railway, a local line run by a third-sector railway firm in this west Japan prefecture, has been tested on the line for the first time. There, the driver "mode changed" the DMV over to the train line. Special wheels appeared from the vehicle's underside, and within around 15 seconds it was ready to travel along the track. ASA Seaside Railway Corp. intends to have the service running between Awa-Kainan Station and Kannoura Station, in the Kochi Prefecture town of Toyo, within fiscal 2020.

Source: Mainichi

15 Dec 2020. Germany. DB to test train sensor technology next year

As part of the Sensors4Rail joint project with industry and specialist partners, in 2021 Deutsche Bahn (DB) is to test highly modern sensors that can identify the surroundings and locations of trains. The innovative sensors automatically monitor the surroundings in front of and next to the train, thus allowing it to avoid potential disruptions. In addition, a digital map permits precise tracking of the vehicle in real-time, thus enabling shorter intervals between trains. This frees up even more capacity on the routes, without having to additionally upgrade or revamp the infrastructure. The system Sensors4Rail serves as support for the train crew and the driver remains on board.

Source: Global Railway Review

15 Dec 2020. Austria. Europe expands night train network

ÖBB are leading the European network expansion and are expected to soon reach 26 routes. In cooperation with other state railroads, the ÖBB network will soon include cities such as Barcelona, Paris and Amsterdam. However, due to the market liberalisation of recent years, they are now competing with private companies who will plan to offer services from Stockholm to Berlin and the Alps, and from the Czech Republic to Ukraine. Private operator Regiojet already runs night trains from Prague to Croatia and Slovakia. Regiojet, together with other private railroads, has sent an open letter to politicians, asking for a fair competition. This, they say, is the only way to implement the Green Deal in European passenger transport.

Source: Euronews

15 Dec 2020. Estonia. Spanish companies win electrification design contract

Infrastructure manager Eesti Raudtee has awarded a joint venture of Spanish engineering companies Ardanuy Ingeneria and Ayesa Ingenieria y Arquitectura a €3·7m contract to produce the technical requirements and preliminary designs for its 500 track-km 25 kV 50 Hz electrification programme. The first phase of the contract covers the preparation of technical plans for the entire electrification programme. This will be followed by the preparation by early 2022 of preliminary designs for the Aegviidu – Tapa – Tartu route, where wiring is planned by the end of 2024. The entire electrification project is expected to be completed by the end of 2028, under a programme to reduce the environmental impact of the country’s transport sector, raise speeds and enhance operational performance.

Source: Railway Gazette

17 Dec 2020. Australia. Further government funding for Victorian rail freight

The Federal Government has committed an additional $200m to a regional Victorian rail project that ran out of funding more than a year ago. The $440m Murray Basin Rail Project began in 2016 but stalled in 2019 with half the upgrade complete. The Commonwealth previously committed more than $240m to the project, which is aimed at improving rail freight movement between farming communities in the north-west of the state and Victorian ports. The Federal Government said the new funding would allow for some aspects of the original works to be fixed, including the re-railing of the line between Ararat and Maryborough. An upgrade to the 88-kilometre section of the track was completed in 2017 but used poor-quality legacy rail. How much of the new funds would be used to fix that issue has not been revealed?

Source: ABC

14 Dec 2020. Germany. Embarrassing error on newly electrified Zurich-Munich line

Deutsche Bahn (DB) faced an embarrassing issue yesterday on its newly electrified the Zurich-Munich train line which was being upgraded. The first SBB train was a victim of a signalling error. Whilst running inside Germany the SBB train was misdirected onto a non-electrified section of track. Naturally the train came to a standstill. Its pantograph was damaged but it also meant mainline trains were disrupted for most of Sunday. Although travel is below normal during the pandemic this newly electrified line has the potential to woo business people away from air.

Source: Business Traveller

14 Dec 2020. Switzerland Ceneri Base Tunnel officially open

The Ceneri Base Tunnel, the last section to be built of the New Railway Link (NRLA) through the Alps, started operating regular timetable services on Sunday, 13 December. In September the SBB took over the tunnel and is now responsible for its maintenance and train operations. Test services got under way with 5,800 commercial passenger and freight trains. With the opening of the Ceneri Base Tunnel and the new 2021 timetable, there are now faster, more frequent services to Milan. The Ceneri Base Tunnel will also deliver improvements for regional rail services. Passengers can now travel between Zurich and Lugano in under two hours. Passengers will benefit from modern rolling stock – Stadler’s Giruno and TILO FLIRT trains, which are low-floor for different platform heights. The 4-metre corridor is also complete. The tunnel means that longer, heavier freight trains can operate through the Alps. Trains with a length of up to 750m and a weight of 2,150t can run north-south, while trains with a weight of up to 2,000t can operate south-north.

Source: Railway News

14 Dec 2020. Costa Rica. New trains en route from China

The first four of eight new diesel trains have been shipped to Costa Rica from China. They will be received in the coming days at the Pacific port of Caldera. The remaining shipment is scheduled to arrive in January, and all eight carriages are expected to be placed into operation across the Greater Metropolitan Area in the first quarter of 2021. Each of the trains has a length of 38 m and a capacity for 372 passengers, double the capacity of the current railroad cars. On-board amenities include air conditioning, preferential seating for people with mobility issues, and wheelchair spaces. The trains, were purchased at a cost of US$32.7m from the Chinese company CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co.

Source: The Tico Times

14 Dec 2020. Uruguay. Stadler awarded locomotive contract

Stadler has signed a contract with Portren SA to supply seven Euro4001 six-axle diesel locomotives which PORTREN will use to haul trains between UPM’s new pulp mill at Paso de los Toros and the port of Montevideo. It is Stadler’s first contract in Uruguay. Deliveries are expected to start by the end of 2022. The locomotives will be designed and manufactured at its plant in Valencia, Spain, specially adapted for freight service, EURO4001 locomotives boast high levels of performance and reliability. Fitted with a powerful 2800 kW and low emissions diesel engines, they meet EU emissions standard, EC 26/2004 Stage V. The latest bogie technology and efficient asynchronous traction motors help reduce wear and tear on the infrastructure, as well as cut noise pollution.

Source: Stadler

14 Dec 2020. Argentina. China to invest in upgrades to railway system

Chinese rail companies have signed agreements worth US$4.7bn with the government of Argentina, aimed at improving the country’s rail system. The Chinese companies involved included China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), China Machinery Engineering Corporation, CRRC Corporation Limited and Yutong. The largest item will be the upgrading of the San Martin line at a cost of US$2.6bn. This will involve work on 1,813km of track in the districts of Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, San Luis, Cordoba, and Mendoza. The renovation of the 911km Belgrano freight line will cost US$820m and will benefit agriculture in the provinces of Jujuy, Salta, Tucuman, Cordoba, San Luis, Santa Fe, Buenos Aires and Catamarca. Some US$490m will be spent on phasing out diesel trains on the Belgrano and Sarmiento lines, as well as the Coastal Train passenger trains on the Miter line, which connects Buenos Aires with the rest of the country. China will also supply 211 electric locomotives.

Source: Global Construction Review

12 Dec 2020. Australia. Drivers and guards overtime bill “normal: says Minister

Queensland train drivers and guards pocketed more than half a million dollars in overtime each week last financial year, despite patronage plunging during the pandemic. But Transport Minister Mark Bailey defended the overtime spending, saying it was "a normal part of running a rail system anywhere in the world". State government data revealed during budget estimates showed A$28.3m was paid out on overtime last financial year. Mr Bailey said that number was expected to drop to A$24.3m in 2020-21, as the state had invested in training more drivers. Spread across the state's 887 drivers, guards and trainees, each worker would have taken home an extra A$31,905 on average in overtime last year. That was expected to decrease to A$27,395 this financial year.

Source: Brisbane Times

11 Dec 2020. UK. Delayed trains predicted by AI after analysis of railway data

An AI has been fed with British railway data, allowing it to accurately predict delays on the train network. Over the past 20 years, the number of passengers travelling on British train networks has almost doubled to 1.7 billion, with delays having a significant impact on people’s travel plans. A team from the University of Illinois applied a ‘Spatial-Temporal Graph Convolutional Network’ model to predict delays within a portion of the British rail network where Didcot Parkway and London Paddington serve as gateway stations. “Compared with other statistical models, this one outperforms them for forecasting delays up to 60 minutes in the future,” said researcher Huy Tran. “One challenge was that this data only captures the full trip of a train from start to finish. It doesn’t tell us where it was delayed along the way”. The team’s new formulation approximates on which leg of the trip a delay occurs - data which the AI then combines with real-world data to predict behaviours.

Source: Engineering & Technology

11 Dec 2020. UK. DfT and FirstGroup agree on future of SWR and Avanti

FirstGroup plc has announced that it has reached an agreement with the Department for Transport (DfT) on the next steps for the South Western Railway (SWR) and West Coast Partnership train operating companies – the latter of which comprises Avanti West Coast and the shadow operator for HS2 (together known as Avanti). The agreement has outlined that FirstGroup will not be required pay a pre-existing franchise agreement termination sum for Avanti but must pay a contribution of £33.2mill for SWR. As announced on 20 September 2020, SWR and Avanti are currently operating under Emergency Recovery Measures Agreements (ERMAs), which were put in place by DfT to provide continuity for rail passengers and the industry during the COVIS 19 pandemic. The ERMA for Avanti is in place until the end of March 2022, and the SWR ERMA is in place until the end of March 2021. Both can be extended by a further half year at the DfT’s discretion.

Source: Global Railway Review

10 Dec 2020. UK. HS2 tunnelling machines arrive from Germany

Two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) have arrived in the UK in order to start work on the HS2 railway project. The TBMs, which measure 170m in length and weigh 2,000 tonnes each, were transported from Germany in more than 300 separate shipments over a period of about two months. Said to be the biggest TBMs ever to be used on a railway project in the UK, the machines were delivered to the Align Chiltern tunnel site, located to the west of London. Manufactured by German company Herrenknecht, the giant machines will be operated by main works contractor, Align – a joint venture formed by Bouygues Travaux Publics, Sir Robert McAlpine, and VolkerFitzpatrick. Named Florence and Cecilia, the machines will be put to work on the project’s Chiltern site next year. They will dig the 10-mile-long ‘twin-bore’ Chiltern tunnel and will be in continuous 24-hour operation for over three years.

Source: KHL Group

9 Dec 2020. UK. Major re-signalling work set for Birmingham New Street

Birmingham New Street passengers are being asked to double-check their platforms, throughout 2021, before travelling as work continues to replace signalling equipment. The vast majority of equipment in use at Birmingham New Street is around 54 years old and is reaching the end of its working life. Starting with platform 12, the programme of closures will take place until June 2022 to install new, high-tech signalling which will provide passengers with better, more dependable journeys through the country’s busiest interchange station outside of London. Services by all train operators which use Birmingham New Street – West Midlands Railway, London Northwestern Railway, Avanti West Coast, Cross Country and Transport for Wales, will be obstructed by the work but a full timetable will continue to operate throughout. Trains will simply arrive and leave at different platforms depending on which one is closed at the time.

Source: Railway Technology Magazine